Federer avenges 2005 semifinal loss to Safin; good day for Indians in doubles action
MELBOURNE: Ana Ivanovic’s hopes of a return trip to the Australian Open final fell apart in a barrage of mistakes on Friday as Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova ousted her 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 in the third round.
With 19-year-old Kleybanova constantly aggressive, fifth-ranked Ivanovic lost her serve nine times and finished with 50 unforced errors to just 23 winners.
When it was over, Kleybanova dropped to both knees, pumped her fists and blew kisses at the crowd. Ivanovic appeared to be nearly in tears as she walked off court.
The Serb’s loss came on a day that the late match between second-ranked Roger Federer against former No. 1 Marat Safin — which the Swiss star won in three sets — was supposed to produce the biggest news.
Instead, ethnic violence erupted between nationalist fans after Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the defending men’s champion, beat Bosnia-born American Amer Delic.
One of several thrown chairs hit a woman and left her briefly unconscious though not seriously injured. Police said about 30 Bosnian and Serbian youths were ejected from Melbourne Park. Two men were charged with riotous behaviour and a third was fined on the spot.
This was what organisers had feared when they announced before the tournament that they were instituting a no-tolerance policy for disruptions.
They wanted the focus on tennis — such as Kleybanova’s upset victory, Andy Roddick’s 22 aces while winning in straight sets or top-ranked Jelena Jankovic and No. 3 Dinara Safina advancing.
Instead of talking about how defending champion Djokovic reached the third round with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory packed with drama and good sportsmanship — the 21-year-old Serb and Bosnian-born Delic were mostly quizzed about the chaotic scene that followed, when their supporters clashed outside near a big-screen TV showing the match.
“There’s absolutely no place for that here. This is a tennis match,” said Delic, who attended the University of Illinois and lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
Before finally asking reporters to change the subject, Djokovic lamented that players can’t control their fans. Delic had earlier used his website to ask his backers, who were boisterous to the point of disruption in the qualifier’s first two matches, to tone it down.
And that wasn’t even all of the day’s drama — a man was arrested after dancing across a court, naked from the waist down, as Serena and Venus Williams won a second-round doubles match.
The rematch of the 2005 men’s semifinal here, won by Safin en route to the championship, was dominated by Federer, who again looked sharp in his pursuit of a 14th Grand Slam title that would tie Pete Sampras’s record, winning 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(5).
Federer never faced a breakpoint, and the mercurial Safin’s growing frustration nearly boiled over when he was called for a foot-fault on his second serve.
That gave him a double-fault and Federer a 4-1 lead in the third-set tie-breaker. Safin rallied to lead 5-4 before Federer ran off the last three points, the last on a backhand winner down the line.
Safin has said he is unlikely to continue playing after this year.
After dropping the first set, 21-year-old Ivanovic lost her first two service games in the second, falling behind 0-3.
She rallied to force a tie-breaker, where both women were pumping their fists after every point they won. Ivanovic did a three-punch combination after whacking an overhead winner on set point.
The jubilation was short-lived: Ivanovic found herself facing 0-3 again in the deciding set and never caught up. Serving at 2-5, she fell behind 0-40.
She saved one matchpoint with a high, lunging volley winner before Kleybanova hit a forehand crosscourt that went untouched to end the match in 2 hours and 43 minutes.
Kleybanova, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year in her third Grand Slam, dropped to her knees in relief and disbelief. “It was one of the most exciting matches of my life,” Kleybanova said. “I will never forget this night.”
Roddick had a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Fabrice Santoro and next plays No. 21 Tommy Robredo of Spain, who beat Taiwanese player Yen-Hsun Lu.
On the women’s side, Olympic silver medallist Safina beat No. 25 Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. Fellow Russians Vera Zvonareva, seeded seventh, and No. 10 Nadia Petrova are also in the fourth round.
Unseeded Jelena Dokic, a former Wimbledon semifinalist making her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam after a three-year absence, knocked off a seeded player for the second straight round, ousting No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Meanwhile, Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi cleared the first round hurdle in mixed doubles while Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna advanced in men’s doubles as India rounded off an all-win day at the Australian Open.
The unseeded Sania-Bhupathi pair stunned sixth seeds Kveta Peschke and Pavel Vizner of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4 to set up a clash with local favourites Anastasia Rodionova and Stephen Huss, who defeated compatriots Jessica Moore and Carsten Ball 7-5, 7-5.
In men’s doubles, fourth seeds Paes and Czech Lukas Dlouhy sailed past unseeded Italian-Croat pairing of Fabio Fognini and Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.
Sania, who has crashed out of the singles and women’s doubles events, was the star of the show today with her net play. Sania and Bhupathi, who had no trouble in pocketing the first set in 27 minutes, were given a tough fight by Peschke and Vizner in the second.
The Indians trailed 0-4 before reeling off six games on the trot to seal the issue after battling for over 40 minutes in the second set.
However, it was smooth sailing for Paes and Dlouhy as they wrapped up the match in just 62 minutes, breaking their rivals four times in the process.
Earlier, Davis Cupper Rohan Bopanna and his Finnish partner Jarko Nieminin advanced to the second round defeating the Spanish pair of Marcel Granollers and Sanitago Ventura 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. It took Bopanna and Nieminin one hour and 13 minutes to dump their opponents. The Indo-Finnish pair will next face Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador and Tommy Robredo of Spain in the second round. — Agencies
Men: Singles: Third round: 19-Marin Cilic bt 11-David Ferrer 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4; 8-Juan Martin del Potro bt Gilles Muller 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-3, 7-5; 3-Novak Djokovic bt Amer Delic 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4); 21-Tommy Robredo bt Yen-hsun Lu 6-1, 6-3, 6-2; 7-Andy Roddick bt Fabrice Santoro 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; 20-Tomas Berdych bt Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4; 2-Roger Federer bt 26-Marat Safin 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(5); Marcos Baghdatis bt 23-Mardy Fish 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Women: Singles: Third round: 10-Nadia Petrova bt Galina Voskoboeva 6-1 retd.; 3-Dinara Safina bt 25-Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-2; 7-Vera Zvonareva bt Sara Errani 6-4, 6-1; 16-Marion Bartoli bt Lucie Safarova 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; 15-Alize Cornet bt 19-Daniela Hantuchova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; 1-Jelena Jankovic bt 26-Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 6-4; Jelena Dokic bt 11-Caroline Wozniacki 3-6, 6-1, 6-2; 29-Alisa Kleybanova bt 5-Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2.
Doubles: Men: Second round: 4-Lukas Dlouhy & Leander Paes bt Fabio Fognini & Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-4.
First round: Rohan Bopanna & Jarkko Nieminen bt Marcel Granollers & Santiago Ventura 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Mixed doubles: First round: Sania Mirza & Mahesh Bhupathi bt 6-Kveta Peschke & Pavel Vizner 6-2, 6-4.